On your European cruise, few cities can match the sophistication and postcard-level beauty of Amsterdam. Known to the rest of the world as a bicycler’s town and famous for the often-mentioned Red Light District, there’s more to Amsterdam than meets the eye. On your Amsterdam cruise, you’ll discover this is a place that embodies a slower lifestyle, where enjoying simple pleasures is part of the daily routine.
When you cruise from Amsterdam, you can take a leisurely approach to seeing everything the city has to offer. Artsy travelers will love the city’s emphasis on fine artists like Van Gogh, Vermeer, and Rembrandt, whose works are displayed at museums across the city. Check out the famous Van Gogh Museum for a must-see glimpse into Van Gogh’s tragic and incredible life story. Hop on a rented bike and explore the city on two wheels, whether you’re riding along the canal or going windmill spotting across the city. Stop in a coffee shop (which means something entirely different than what you’re used to) in Amsterdam to experience the city’s unique culture. You could also go gallery hopping or tour a gin distillery. There’s a lot to see and do in Amsterdam.
One of Amsterdam’s best-known sights, the Anne Frank House is a harrowing memorial of the Holocaust. Young Anne Frank lived in hiding for two years in Amsterdam, and today millions flock to the museum every year to pay their respects and learn about the horrific persecution of Jews during World War II. Lines tend to be long to get into the museum, so be sure to buy a ticket in advance.
This sleek art museum is home to internationally renowned modern collections from artists like Andy Warhol and older classics from Matisse and Rodin. Spend a few hours among thought-provoking sculptures, paintings, and mixed media. You’ll leave an art aficionado.
You won’t find a better view of Amsterdam than from the heights of the A’DAM Lookout, which is over 22 stories high. Take in the panoramic view of Amsterdam in style, admiring the way the sunlight engulfs the canal. Plus, there is a restaurant, cafe, and even nightlife on the 19th floor, so you can grab a bite and party in the clouds.
Lovers of Vincent Van Gogh and his fascinating life stories can learn something new at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, where over 200 completed paintings live, plus many of Van Gogh’s letters and sketches. It’s home to the largest collection of Van Gogh in the world. This is one of the city’s most population tourist attractions, so be sure to buy a ticket before you arrive.
A trip to Rijksmuseum is a must during your free time before boarding a cruise from Amsterdam. It’s a snapshot in time of Dutch history and art, where you can stand close to Dutch masterpieces from the Golden Age and enjoy paintings from Vermeer and Rembrandt, too. It’s the crown jewel of the Museumplein, Amsterdam’s famed square of museums and cafes.
The “brown cafe” is an Amsterdam cultural experience you should check out for yourself during an Amsterdam cruise. These are traditional Dutch pubs where romantic candles burn down to the wick, beer spills in conversation over the wooden tables, and you can enjoy fried bar snacks galore. A few famous ones in Amsterdam include Cafe Hoppe and Cafe Chris.
There are eight different historic windmills scattered in and around Amsterdam, so why not make a day of seeing each one? Grab your bike or rent a car and hop from windmill to windmill, stopping for lunch, coffee, or a local brew along the way. The Sloten Windmill is still in operation today and is open to visitors.
It wouldn’t be Amsterdam without the influx of bicyclists spinning across town as they ride to work, to meet friends, and for pleasure. It’s one of the best ways to feel the city’s energy and get to know its windy grid system. Follow the rules of the road carefully while you’re biking here.
Jordaan is one of Amsterdam’s most popular districts, a neighborhood of boutiques and antiques, shops and cafes, and casual eateries set against the beautiful backdrop of Dutch-colonial architecture. Live like a local as you explore markets like Westerstraat and laid-back cafes like De Vergulde Gaper, where you can people-watch over a morning coffee.
Address: Bellamyplein 51, 1053 AT Amsterdam, Netherlands
Foodhallen sounds exactly like what it is: a food hall in Amsterdam where the many food stands offer something for everyone, whether you’re looking for local brews, Vietnamese bites, or freshly made yoghurt. The open floor plan means even a crowd doesn’t feel intimidating at Foodhallen.
Address: Peperstraat 23, 1011 TJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Greetje will teach you a little bit about traditional Dutch cuisine keeping in line with the family tradition of its owners. They offer a tasting menu for two, where you can sample all the entrees. Or you can go à la carte and choose from dishes like roast lamb with potatoes and gravy or slow-cooked veal. Top off your meal with creme brulee or a selection of Dutch cheeses for dessert.
Address: Museumstraat 2, 1071 XX Amsterdam, Netherlands
Located within the Rijksmuseum is the one Michelin-starred Rijks, which offers classically Dutch dishes with a modern spin. Here you can find a six-course tasting menu or an upscale lunch. It’s fine dining in a romantic but airy space, making the restaurant an ideal place to dine after a day of museum tours.
Address: Goudsbloemstraat 91 1015 JK Amsterdam, Netherlands
Come for the American-style brunch and choose from over a dozen varieties of Bloody Marys to accompany it. Brunch favorites include eggs benedict, challah french toast, pancakes drenched in chocolate sauce, and more. On the weekends, there’s a one-of-a-kind “brunch boat,” which takes you out sailing for an hour and a half while you eat and drink.
Fishing and trade have been at the core of Amsterdam’s history since the 13th century, when the city was, according to legend, founded by fishermen. By the 17th century, the golden age of Amsterdam had begun, ushering in a renaissance of trade for diamonds and other exports. Famous artists like Van Gogh, Vermeer, and Rembrandt are heavily featured throughout the city. During World War II, Amsterdam faced tragedy as Jewish citizens were deported and sent to occupation camps all over Europe, sparking the city’s efforts to memorialize and honor those who were lost, which resulted in the founding of the the National Monument and the Anne Frank House. Today, Amsterdam is known as a cultural heart of Europe, home to a variety of art museums and cultural institutions. Amsterdam is a bicyclists’ haven and open-minded capital city where all are welcome. Each year in April, Amsterdam hosts its celebrated tulip festival.
Amsterdam’s cruise passengers will find a bustling yet smooth and efficient port. Ships embarking on cruises from Amsterdam are docked in one of two places: Felison Terminal, where smaller ships dock, or the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam (PTA), where a 10-minute walk will take you to a popular station. From there, you can travel by bus or trolley to Amsterdam’s historic center.
You probably already know Amsterdam’s most famous mode of transportation: the humble bicycle. Biking is the custom here, and locals take it seriously. If you’ve never ridden a bike before, learning in Amsterdam probably isn’t where you want to start. Driving in Amsterdam is tricky for many because the streets can be windy and narrow. There are typically stands where you can hail a taxi, but unlike other cities like New York, you can’t hail a taxi just anywhere. Otherwise, it’s fairly easy to walk on foot around the city center to see Amsterdam’s biggest sights.
There’s not a ton of shopping near the cruise port, but you should leave time before your cruise from Amsterdam to go shopping in the city center to grab specialty goods like Dutch pottery and Amsterdam-themed souvenirs. Of course, fashion boutiques and daily markets are famously Amsterdam, like Albert Cuypmarkt or Westermarkt for clothing. There are both daily and weekly markets scattered all over the city, where local food vendors and antique sellers offer unique finds for all ages.
The official currency of the Netherlands is the Euro, and you’ll find that credit cards are accepted in most places. Your best bet is using Visa or Mastercard. ATMs are plentiful, too. Some smaller shops and restaurants will only accept debit cards with a pin code here. When it comes to tipping, leave a 10% tip at restaurants, or 5% if you’re ordering a coffee or snack. For taxi drivers, it’s polite to round up to the nearest euro, or tip 5-10% of your fare.